Residents voiced their opposition to the proposed borrowing of $3.2 million for a new police station, and Smyrna Town Council heard the message. At Monday night’s meeting, council agreed to refinance $7.8 million in existing debt to lock it in at a low interest rate, but opted not to include funding for an expanded police station as part of the action. The vote was unanimous.
Residents voiced their opposition to the proposed borrowing of $3.2 million for a new police station, and Smyrna Town Council heard the message.
At Monday night’s meeting, council agreed to refinance $7.8 million in existing debt to lock it in at a low interest rate, but opted not to include funding for an expanded police station as part of the action.
The vote was unanimous.
At a public hearing prior to the regular meeting, Capt. Wil Bordley, who is currently serving as interim chief for the Smyrna Police, gave a presentation on the conditions at the current police station at Mayor Pat Stombaugh’s request.
After that, nearly a dozen residents took turns voicing concerns about the proposed borrowing for the police station, or about Mayor Stombaugh’s proposal to fund the construction with a flat-rate assessment of about $6 per month.
Combined, the presentation and public comments continued for nearly an hour.
Space, security concerns at police station
During his presentation, Capt. Bordley pointed out a variety of inadequacies with the current police facility.
A restroom has been converted into a computer server room.
Due to a shortage of space, the locker rooms and garage are filled with stored items and equipment.
“We try to save the town money,” Bordley said. “We try not to get rid of things we can use and reuse.”
But beyond the space issue, the current building presents some safety and security problems, like the absence of a sally port area.
At times, prisoners have gotten loose.
“We’ve had one run out the front door since I’ve been there,” Bordley said.
The station’s cellblock does not meet “sight and sound” standards, he added.
Males and females, for example, can talk back and forth and yell at each other from different cells.
“That shouldn’t take place at all,” he said.
Residents weigh in
After the presentation, 11 residents went to the microphone to comment on the issue.
Melaine Minear, spokesperson for the Smyrna Citizens’ Coalition, spoke in opposition to the proposed borrowing for the police station addition.
She also took issue with Mayor Stombaugh’s proposal for a $6 per month surcharge, and raised concerns about the quality of enforcement in the town.
Joe Wilson of Green Meadows also opposed the $6 per month idea.
“Times are really tight right now,” he said. “People are losing their jobs.”
He said some residents are already asking themselves if they should pay their electric, buy food, or buy medicine.
“I scrape, scrape and scrape to pay my electric bill,” said Latoyia Rothwell of McLane Gardens.
“Any increase to my monthly budget is just not acceptable at this time,” said Cindy Cogar of Hamilton Lane.
Former councilman Bill Pressley recalled that council wanted to start on the new police station six years ago, but held off.
“Now times are worse than six years ago,” he said. “It’s not a good time to build a police station.”
“Is crime up that much in Smyrna that we need a new police station?” asked Kay Wyatt. “I’ve never seen a line at the Smyrna police station.”
“Crime is not up in Smyrna; the facility is inadequate,” Bordley responded.
Later in the meeting, Stombaugh said she was trying to be innovative with her $6 surcharge proposal.
“I was trying to think outside the box,” she said.